by Jeff Gore
The group States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery--also known as the "STAR Coalition"--just noticed something interesting: after Gov. Rick Scott took office, the official website detailing Florida’s handling of $11.1 billion in federal stimulus money has been pared to skeletal levels. (The funds were allocated to the state in 2009 as part of President Obama’s $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.)
Here’s how Florida’s Recovery Act website looked on October 20, 2010, when Charlie Crist was still at the helm.
And here’s how the site appears today.
The STAR Coalition’s article is a good read, considering that Scott’s office is quoted. Here’s an excerpt:
Under former Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida's Recovery Act website categorized "state and local [stimulus] projects" by various issue areas, including "health care," "education," and "infrastructure." Each category included sub-category pages that featured a description of the program and specific funding details. The Florida ARRA site also included a stimulus timeline, news updates, FAQs and, according to a March 2009 report by ProPublica, "a lot of downloadable documents."
None of this information is available at Florida's new Recovery Act website under Gov. Rick Scott. The revised website includes only a list of "Certifications Required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" and links to these letters, in which the Governor assures that the state will use Recovery Act funds in compliance with the law.
The STAR Coalition also says that Kansas and Ohio—both states which saw the governor’s seat change from Democratic to Republican hands last year—“dramatically stripped down” their Recovery Act websites as well.
The federal government’s Recovery Act page remains untouched, however, and is a valuable source of data on stimulus dollars at both the state and the national level.